In total, there are about four million people with atopic dermatitis in Germany - and the trend is rising! At school enrollment, about 10% of children suffer from atopic dermatitis. It is therefore the most common inflammatory skin disease in childhood. Paradoxically, improved living conditions and hygiene are possible causes of this increase.
Acute and chronic phase of atopic dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis (atopic eczema, atopic dermatitis or endogenous eczema) is a disease of the atopic type. In the course of the disease, acute and chronic phases alternate.
- In the acute phase, the episode, redness, overheating and burning, sometimes associated with oozing of the skin, dominate.
- In the chronic phase (between the acute episodes), the skin is sometimes extremely dry and flaky. Frequently, sufferers complain of a tormenting itching. Atopic dermatitis can occur all over the body. In childhood, the extensor sides, later the joint bends (elbows, knees) and often the buttocks are usually affected. In adults, the disease occurs in the articular joints and especially in the face, neck, neck, shoulders and chest.
Causes and triggers of atopic dermatitis
The cause of atopic dermatitis is an overreaction of the body to natural environmental substances such as animal hair, mold, food, house dust or bee pollen. The predisposition to the development of skin lesions is inherited, but its expression depends on a variety of factors.
Triggers can be the following factors:
- various inhalant allergens (pollen, mold, house dust mites, animal hair)
- Contact allergens such as nickel or fragrances
- Irritants (detergents, disinfectants, wool, synthetics)
- Food (eg eggs, dairy products, nuts, fish)
- Microorganisms on the skin (especially staphylococci, Candida, Pityrosporum ovale)
- Climatic factors (strong temperature fluctuations, dry heating air, cold winter air, sweating)
- Environmental toxins (cigarette smoke)
In many cases, psychological distress - which infants can already suffer from - can aggravate the illness.
Course of atopic dermatitis
Atopic diseases usually occur as atopic dermatitis in the first months of life / years. Although the symptoms can go back to school by the end of puberty in many cases on their own and patients can live largely symptom-free, a complete cure is still not possible today.
The early onset of atopic dermatitis, for example, due to food allergies (for example, to chicken eggs) may favor the development of potentially life-threatening asthma, unless correct action is taken early, in this case through a chicken egg-free diet. The problem of "change of level" skin (atopic dermatitis), nose (allergic rhinitis or hay fever), lung (allergic asthma) is still often underestimated.
While adults are rarely affected by food allergies, research shows that this is the case in nearly one-third of affected children. In the first place, the trigger is chicken egg, cow's milk, wheat and soy. The reactions often disappear again until school age.